Media centre

Press releases by year

Contact our media team



Universal Children’s Day: A wake-up call on children’s rights

Jakarta, 18 November 2016 – Despite tremendous progress since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1989, the rights of millions of children are still being ignored every day, including in Indonesia, UNICEF said ahead of Universal Children’s Day. 

The CRC is the world’s most rapidly and widely ratified human rights treaty. It sets out a basic, universal standard for a healthy, protected, decent childhood for every human being. Indonesia was one of the first countries to sign the Convention on 26 January 1990, only two months after it was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 November 1989, a date which is commemorated globally as Universal Children’s Day. 

“Indonesia’s commitment to provide children with a fair chance in life has grown increasingly strong. When the world agreed on the Agenda 2030 a year ago, Indonesia already had integrated many of the related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that relate to children in its Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJMN),” said UNICEF Representative Gunilla Olsson. “However, too many children are still excluded.”

Indonesia has made significant, life-saving progress on children’s rights and welfare over the past decades. The mortality rate for children under the age of 5, for instance, has been slashed by more than half, saving more than 5 million children, who would have died had the rate remained at 1990 levels. Almost 98 per cent of children aged 7-12 attend primary school, and extreme poverty has been significantly reduced.

Yet many of the challenges that frustrate progress on children’s rights globally – where nearly 6 million children still die every year from preventable causes, and where the poorest children are twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday as the richest – continue to hamper progress in Indonesia, too.

Over 50 per cent of the country’s more than 80 million children live on less than two dollars a day. While data on sanitation reveals that open defecation (OD) has almost been eliminated among the richest Indonesians, among the poorest, the rates are still very high.  Over one third of the poorest rural households practice open defecation (BPS 2013) which drastically increases the risk of diarrhoea and pneumonia, major child killers in Indonesia; it also exacerbates stunting, when children are too short for their age.

The disparities between rich and poor are exacerbated by regional inequities, with children in poorer, more rural areas of the country less able to access crucial services and support. In Papua and West Papua, for instance, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS is 15 times higher than the national average.

“Overall progress at the national level often masks huge disparities between the provinces and regions,” Ibu Gunilla said. “The roll out of the SDGs provides an opportunity to put children’s rights at the centre of the country’s development agenda. All 17 SDGs touch on the lives of children, and 13 of them are particularly relevant for children. Therefore, at UNICEF we say that sustainable development needs to start with children,” Ibu Gunilla said. “Investments in reaching all children, especially the most vulnerable is the best investment a country can make.”



UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:

For further information, please contact:

Kinanti Pinta Karana, UNICEF Communication Specialist, Tel: +62 815 880 5842



 Email this article

Donate Now

unite for children